Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Memories from a TV Star

Last night we watched Wonderland's Poway episode. It was great fun to see the Poway-Midland Railroad get the attention it deserves. It was also funny to see how standing around for 5 hours can get you about 10 seconds on screen for a TV show. (see my previous post about this show to get the link to the YouTube video showing the taping process)

This is the second time I've been on screen for the railroad. Neither time did I speak. Both times it took FOREVER and yielded a few seconds of screen time. I guess that is the way these things work.

The previous time was for a children's show called The Jumpitz. They sell on Amazon in both English and Spanish (completely different casts for the two versions). That means that they taped everything twice too. However, that doesn't get across just how much time went into that taping. First there were rehearsal shots, then filmed ones. Then more filmed ones (because something was wrong or they needed a different angle, or something). Since I was loading luggage into the train at a very fast pace (to music), every time they reshot, we had to unload all the luggage and start again. Oh, and they blared the music (a catchy little tune which is a worse earworm than "It's a Small World"--and probably enjoyed by children just as much, but causes groans in anyone over 12) every time they practiced or taped.

This taping for Wonderland meant a lot of standing around and waiting as the host visited the museum and the Nelson house (because time ran over and he couldn't finish with us before he was supposed to meet with them) and then James and I watched the taping of the other volunteers in the barn. For every interview you saw on TV (if you missed it, don't worry, it will repeat; it is KPBS) there were four takes, at least, plus maybe two or more interviews that never made it to air. What you do see, however, is great fun. The host, Noah, certainly knows how to make his viewers want to see what he shows. I hope that means that lots of people will want to come out to ride the train. The Poway-Midland Railroad deserves more attention than it gets. No other place in San Diego has a regularly running steam train.

OK, I titled this post "Memories from a TV Star" but if you have seen the shows I am talking about, you will know that in each I just smile, wave, and stand on a piece of equipment in a conductor's uniform (or toss luggage to an invisible crew member hiding on the floor). Still, it was interesting to see how much behind the scenes work (and waiting around) goes into such short segments of filming. In both cases, lots of editing went into the final product so that it looks very different than the experience of actually being there and taping it. The experience gives me a different perspective on what I see on TV everyday.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Around the World: Finally Complete

Awhile back I wrote about how we were participating in a Jules Verne tribute. The book Around the World in 80 Days was being shipped around the world and trying to make it back to its owner in 80 days. The book made it to our hands on Dec 31, 2008 and we took pictures with it around San Diego before mailing it to its next stop.

Well, it took longer than 80 days, but the book is now back in Portugal where it began.

You can see the whole story at the owner's blog:
JV Blog
(Please note, the blog is in Portuguese but English and French translations follow each section, so scroll down in order to read it)

It was fun following the book on its journey and seeing photos of it with different landmarks. I wish it had made it within its 80 days, but I guess Phileas Fogg was faster.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Poway-Midland RR and KPBS

The Poway-Midland Railroad ( will be on televisions in San Diego very soon. The KPBS show Wonderland is doing a segment on Poway and came to our Railroad last Wed.

The host, Noah, interviewed our President, Earle Krepelin, and took a tour of the barn. This included talking to Pete M. about the San Francisco Cable car restoration currently underway. Then Noah took a ride on the 1894 LA trolley with James and me.

The show will premiere on Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009 at 9pm on KPBS.

Here is a short preview (with permission of Noah).

Also, see our other videos of the Poway-Midland Railroad.

Here is the Wonderland preview, if you would rather see it here:

Friday, January 2, 2009

Around the World . . . in 80 days

The last day of this year (2008) proved a very exciting one for us. We are participants in a world-wide event--the mailing of a Jules Verne book, Around the World in Eighty Days, around the world in under 80 days. We were the west coast stop and the book came into our hands at 10:30am on December 31, 2008.

Our first stop was Balboa Park, the premier central park of San Diego. The book had just been in Yokohama, Japan (which is San Diego's sister city) so we first took a photo with the Japanese Friendship Garden sign commemorating that fact. We also took photos with the Spreckels Organ Pavilion (one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs); built for the 1915 Panama-California Exhibition, it has a wonderful sound when we attend concerts there.

One of my favorite sights in the world is the California Tower in Balboa Park, so we naturally took photos there too. Here is James holding the book and my Little Will Shakespeare puppet (which posed for pictures all across Britain in September).

After that, we went to the Star of India (gorgeous ship) and then the Hotel Del Coronado. It was a beautiful day.

Before heading home, we stopped at a small local restaurant themed to the book, called Phileas Fogg's Restaurant. It has pretty good British food and we have eaten there several times since it opened. We love the mural representing the journey in Verne's book.

Nearby is the Poway-Midland Railroad where my husband and I volunteer. We run a 1907 Baldwin Steam Locomotive around the park there, at least two times a month. Although the train is currently down for its annual maintenance, we will be running either the 1894 Los Angeles Trolley or the 1950 Fairmont Speeder this Sunday, during our normal volunteer day.
James has been collecting Verne books for awhile now and here he is proudly posing with his books and the Portuguese copy which we mailed out at 4:45pm so that it can reach Illinois (its next stop on its way home to Portugal).

The blog detailing the whole trip is:

The post relating to our stop (with more pictures) is:

Note that it starts in Portuguese but if you scroll down, you will find each entry in English as well (and eventually he has been adding French translations to these entries with the help of another fan, I believe). Originally, when James agreed to be part of this event, I thought the copy being mailed was an older, vintage copy, but it turned out to be a very nice 2003 copy which happens to replicate the original french cover design and have copies of the original interior illustrations. We signed the book and dated it, like the other participants, and mailed it off with a San Diego postcard as a souvenir of its time here.

This was a fun way to end the year and let us visit a few of our favorite spots, too.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Anime Geek

I love Anime. For those who don't know, anime describes cartoons, mostly from Japan (although other countries are trying to get in on the act), often made for teens and adults (there are MANY anime shows not suitable for children). I've been a fan for years, especially of some of the excellent sci-fi shows. Here is a short list of some of my favorites (with links to Wikipedia or other sources for more info on the show if you are really interested):

Cowboy Bebop -- One of the first animes I ever watched, it is a fan favorite for a reason. Bounty hunters in the future try to make a living and not get killed in this action-packed adventure. There is a lot to like here, from the style of animation to the main characters (whose murky pasts eventually are made clear). As a bonus, the opening credits song is a great piece of jazz. Link

Wolf's Rain -- Like a lot of japanese anime, this one throws you in the middle of a complex story and world and it takes awhile to figure out what is going on. I am not sure I ever quite got all of the details right and I definitely am not sure about the ending, but I did grow to like this show very much. Wolves can make themselves appear human to us. In this world, which is about to be destroyed, we have an alien aristocracy, poor humans, and a group of wolves who are trying to rescue a mysterious female who may be able to "reset" the world. Link

Death Note -- There aren't too many shows who can pull off having the main character be a terrible villain, but in essence this show does just that. Light, the teenage main character, quickly turns into a slightly insane killer, even if he believes he is justified in his actions. This show is well written and interesting. I was freaked out, though, when I went into one comic store and their guest book was a Death Note replica. There was no way I was writing my name in THAT book. Link

-- This show is a western set in the future and is completely split in its style. When serious, it is beautiful and when comic, it looks like juvenile slapstick. This was one of the first anime shows I watched and I love it still. Vash the Stampede, in his red coat, is a favorite. Link

Read or Die: OVA and TV Show -- I actually bought the mangas (cartoon novels) for this one (that's how much I like the show). What can I say? I love reading. The main character is obsessed with books. She is also a "paper master" (which means she has a superhuman ability to make paper become anything she wants, including hard enough to block bullets). The show is strange but I loved it. Like so much of anime, the female characters are drawn to attract male audiences (this seems particularly true of some sections of the mangas) but don't let that stop you if you are a female. There is plenty to enjoy and the female leads are strong and interesting. The OVA is essentially a movie (and therefore short to watch). The TV show has to be watched after the OVA although, at first, it seems barely connected to it but eventually you find out how essential the movie is to understanding this show. Link

Ghost in the Shell
-- There are two seasons of episodes (Stand Alone Complex) plus some movies, all set in a world where our future involves cyborg bodies and interconnectivity with computers. It is a good cop show with serious scifi philosophical musings. If you can get past the ridiculous outfit the main female character wears, you can enjoy this show for what it is--seriously good science fiction. Link

Blood+ -- For fans of Buffy the Vampire slayer, this is the story of a school girl who kills vampire-like creatures. Okay, so it is more complicated than that, but it still appeals to that audience. Link

Gankutsuo: The Count of Monte Cristo
-- I liked the book The Count of Monte Cristo and this anime takes that plot and puts it into the future. It also has one of the most beautiful styles of any anime show I've ever seen. I loved this show and found it captivating. Link

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit -- Currently playing on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, this show is a new one to me. I haven't seen all of the episodes (the show is in repeats right now and I hope more are on the way). It has a nice style and some promise. Link

Detective Conan -- The style of drawing is more juvenile than most I watch, but I am a sucker for murder mysteries and this show (marketed as "Case Closed" in America) is really about how many different ways you can present "locked door" and other typical murder conundrums. Like Inuyasha, below, it is written for the younger set of audience but there is enjoyment here for adults too. This is a huge hit in Japan with a huge list of episodes and a bunch of movies. Link

Inuyasha -- This one is a guilty pleasure for me. I've seen all of the episodes and the movies. It is made for a younger crowd than most of the others I watch but I found it fun. Sort of a teen Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a world of demons, heavy on the humor. Link

Library War -- This show takes an interesting premise and buries it in a comic romance. However, I did enjoy it and particularly found some of the later episodes enjoyable. I have watched a number of the more fantasy/romance based comedies and this had a number of similarities with them in style and tone so it should go over well with the crowd who likes Love Hina or other shows of that sort, but it also has a more serious sci-fi edge (which I thought should have been played up a lot more). Link

Project Blue Earth: SOS -- This one plays more like a typical American cartoon, with a sequential, easy-to-follow storyline. I liked it. It was like Johnny Quest and Tom Swift rolled together with the movie Independence Day. It deserves a bigger fan base. Link

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
-- Complex storyline with the typical mecha robots (you can see similar ones in Eureka Seven or even Big O). It is currently playing on the Cartoon Network and I look forward to seeing how it will end. They keep taking the series where I don't expect--killing off characters unexpectedly, changing storylines, etc. Not an easy to predict story. Link

RahXephon -- Some say this is an attempt to make sense of a more famous but flawed predecessor, Neon Genesis Evangelion. That may be true, as they share a number of things in common but this one has a clearer ending and fewer messy child-parent relationships. Link

I also adore anything from Studio Ghibli (from the movie Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro and Laputa to Whisper of the Heart). These movies are made for kids, but adults love them too, for good reason.

I went to Comicon this summer here in San Diego (it seems to be getting more crowded) and was pleased to recognize many fellow fans of these shows and others I have watched. I saw people dressed up as characters from Bleach (currently on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim) and many other shows. I looked for new anime to watch and enjoyed seeing merchandise from current favorites. My hope is that someone reading this blog right now will find a show to love, something that was unexpected but enjoyable.